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Dune: Part Two Review

Visionary director Denis Villeneuve returns for the highly anticipated second instalment of the two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 seminal novel Dune. Even grander in scale than the first, Dune: Part Two joins the ranks of excellent second instalments, with multiple comparisons to the iconic The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight well earned. With higher stakes, Shakespearean power dynamics and rich visual worlds rivalling Lord of the Rings, it’s safe to say that you can believe the hype.

Events pick up straight after the end of the first instalment following the massacre of House Atreides, with Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) undergoing their initiation with the Fremen, as both parties fight back against the oppressive rule of House Harkonnen. As his relationship with Chani (Zendaya) deepens, Paul faces a tough choice between his love and his destiny, with the fate of the universe in the balance.

Following the extensive world-building and introduction of the major houses, factions and power structures in Dune, Villeneuve wastes no time delving straight into the action. There’s gripping guerilla missions targeting Spice production, sand worm riding a-plenty, and a grandiose desert battle sequence. With prescient visions of the Lisan al-Gaiba leading a holy war woven throughout, the dramatic intensity has certainly been notched up a gear too, along with the impressive non-stop pacing.

Villeneuve ambitiously juggles the blockbuster spectacle with the exploration of weighty (and often cold) themes such as the corruption of power, environmentalism, oppression and the cost of revenge. With so many plates spinning and even more cruel antagonists introduced, it’s no mean feat that the directors’ expansive vision comes to fruition, predominantly due to the outstanding performances and staggering spectacle.

Despite the grandiose (and often psychedelic) narrative, there’s surprisingly heartfelt and humourful moments courtesy of Javier Bardem’s Stilgar and Paul and Chani’s love story, which proves the epicentre of the film. Chalamet undoubtedly grows in the complex and conflicted Messianic role, delving into both the charisma and knotty morality of Paul. He shines in the quieter, more romantic moments alongside Zendaya’s excellently resolute Fremen warrior Chani, who finally gets an extended role this time round (and a number of brilliant ‘if looks could kill’ moments!)

Newcomers Florence Pugh and Léa Seydoux also impress as Princess Irulan and Lady Margot Fenring, giving us a greater glimpse at the complex machinations of the sinister Bene Gesserit sisterhood. However, it’s the transformative Austin Butler who steals the show as the lethal Feyd-Rautha, displaying an absolute visceral ferocity with the Gladiator-inspired introduction, along with his thrilling and excellently choreographed combat with Chalamet’s Paul.

The franchise continues to be incredibly large scale sci-fi and a true audiovisual spectacle, complete with exhilarating action sequences and an outstanding score. Production designer Patrice Vermette, cinematographer Greig Fraser and costume designer Jacqueline West have crafted a distinct and unmistakable universe, with the black and white sequences on Giedi Prime proving a real standout. Hans Zimmers’ electric score (with highlights including the delicate interwoven motif throughout “Beginnings are Such Delicate Times” and “A Time of Quiet Between the Storms” and the outstanding “Worm Riding”) is paired with incredibly immersive speaker shaking sound design.


Dune: Part Two is undoubtedly one of this year’s biggest cinematic experiences as Denis Villeneuve and co. dive deeper into the desert. Outstanding on pretty much all levels, the sequel is visually thrilling and narratively epic, sowing the seeds for a potential adaptation of book two, Dune Messiah. Despite the space bagpipes disappointment, we are treated to a particularly amusing baliset rendition from Josh Brolin’s Gurney Halleck. Let the spice (and rewatches) flow!